Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance 1st Edition
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"Better is a masterpiece, a series of stories set inside the four walls of a hospital that end up telling us something unforgettable about the world outside.” ―Malcolm Gladwell, author of Talking to Strangers
“Atul Gawande's insightful book illuminates the challenging choices members of the profession face every day.” ―Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
“Remarkably honest and human accounts . . . describing professional moments of fear, guilt, embarrassment, and humor . . . Rich in fascinating detail.” ―The Economist
“It's hard to think of a writer working today who makes such good use of man's quest to avoid pain and death. Atul Gawande is not only adding to the small shelf of books by doctors that every layman should read. He's using medicine to help anyone who hopes to do anything better.” ―Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side
“Gawande . . . manages to capture medicine in all of its complex and chaotic glory, and to put it, still squirming with life, down on the page. . . . With this book Gawande inspires all of us, doctor or not, to be better.” ―Pauline W. Chen, The New York Times Book Review
“Gawande is unassuming in every way, and yet his prose is infused with steadfast determination and hope. If society is the patient here, I can't think of a better guy to have our back.” ―Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe
“This is a book about failure: how it happens, how we learn from it, how we can do better. Although its focus is medicine, its message is for everybody. . . . It has already been described as a modern masterpiece―and so it is.” ―Jeremy Lawrence, The Independent (UK)
“Better is a mesmerizing book with fascinations on every page, told with mastery, insight, compassion, and humility by a surgeon who doesn't flinch from taboo subjects or self-examination. . . . On every page, one meets a candid and thoughtful man, who pays close attention, and who somehow manages to find the right balance between intimacy and respectfulness, in a world that can be inhospitable to both.” ―Diane Ackerman, author of An Alchemy of Mind
“I found I had been gripping the book so hard that my fingers hurt. . . . It calls to mind one of the great classics of medical literature, Mikhail Bulgakov's A Country Doctor's Notebook. Few modern authors could stand that comparison, but Gawande can.” ―John Carey, The Sunday Times (UK)
About the Author
Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by Amazon.com as one of the ten best books of 2007; and The Checklist Manifesto. His latest book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, a MacArthur Fellowship, and two National Magazine Awards. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.
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The key theme is that medical success is influenced more by drivers other than the doctor’s skill and training, or availability of equipment and drugs. And these drivers are not glamorous, but include such humdrum things as diligence and persistence.
What is amazing about the book is that the themes are just as applicable in my world - of risk management in financial services - as in medicine. In my 57 years of life, which include 23+ years in risk management, I have seen how simple, mundane DILIGENCE, for example, can cure a lot of ills in companies big and small, including miscommunication, loss of morale and motivation, lack of innovation and entrepreneurship. Ditto simple, mundane, motivated persistence, which the author calls FIGHTING and INGENUITY. This author has definitely tuned into something that demonstrably improves medicine, but, in my view, can improve any individual or collective human effort.
The only gap I can think of is this: Healthcare in the United States is broken, and a big reason is the heavy hand of the shallower forms of commercial interests, which eclipse the entrepreneurship, innovation, humaneness, and efficiency that human effort otherwise produces. But I am encouraged that the author has agreed to lead Haven, a healthcare joint venture of J.P. Morgan Chase, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway. Haven presents a hope that US healthcare will be repaired.
achieving handwashing by healthcare workers to reduce the spread of infections,
attempts to erradicate polio in India by chasing hotspots,
reducing mortality in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars by new strategies of battlefield care,
aspects of chaperones for intimate physical examinations,
different systems for physician compensation,
ways to reform our malpractice laws,
the inhumaness of execution methods and the ethics that prevent physicians from participating,
development of Apgar scores and how they have reduced newborn mortality,
and examples of how doctors and facilities that are highly specialized show better outcomes.
The author explores how significant innovations have been made by those who investigate new approaches and are committed to improvement and how we should all strive to make improvements within our personal niche in healthcare. "How to Become a Positive Deviant"
Top international reviews
Gawande writes very well and no piece lacks interest - thought some hold more interest than others. Coming to this after Being Mortal and The Checklist Manifesto, the book suffers a little by comparison. There's no overarching theme here to match the 'take-aways' from those extended discussions of a single topic. But Gawande's concluding reflections on why he writes - so as not to be just one cog in a machine but engage with the world directly and at scale - make perfect sense. And he certainly succeeds here - it's just that he'll succeed even more later...
I am a fan of his work anyway so was confident I would enjoy this book.
As I work with people who have English as a second language there are often concerns about misunderstandings, I find that I am attracted to books that define terms that we all thought we knew already. They give an insight into the complexity of a topic and remind me that even between native speakers we can interpret what something means differently.
A great read for people wanting to discuss what better means for their work.
I am a physician and enjoyed it but it is must read for all surgeons